Friday, July 01, 2011

Checklist for Persuasion


1. Realize that persuading and winning an argument are NOT the same.

It is possible to win an argument and fail to persuade.

Goal of an argument = to show you are more clever, have more facts on your side, embarrass your opponent, to prove you are right (this is similar to a debate, head on warfare).

goal of persuasion = to win someone; to present the truth effectively; to reason on solid grounds and demonstrate the rightness of your position, or your way of thinking, to make someone else see your are right (this is like an ambush).

Ex. 1 Often, on talk shows, people will humiliate and even yell at one another. Notice, no one is ever persuaded with this approach. Ever. Never, ever.

2. Character is crucial

                There are two kinds of character...
Before we speak: are we truly an honest, trustworthy person? have we demonstrated we truly care about people?

While we speak: do we have eye contact? are we well prepared? do we plagiarize? exaggerate?

3. Respect others 

People will only listen to us if we respect them. This means that we really have to listen to the other side (this demonstrates to them that we really respect them). Schaeffer advocated the 1-hour rule. If we have 1 hr. to speak, we should spend 5 minutes talking and 55 minutes listening. Remember this as you prepare your speech.

4. Creativity
See 2 Samuel 12 for a good example. If Nathan had came to David "head on" he would have never succeeded. Instead, we must be creative and go about persuasion more like a sneak attack. Here are some ways to do that...

1. Irony- say one thing when you clearly mean another. Perhaps the best example of this is Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
2. Tell Stories. Stories have a way of getting to people hearts (see 2 Samuel 12 again). Stories are perhaps the most memorable way to communicate as well. Who could forget “The Prodigal Son?” You must have at least one anecdote (a story with good details) in your speech on Monday.
3. Make jokes. Jokes are taken less offensively than other types of speech.
4. Ask Questions. If you ask good, hard questions people will have to think for themselves. This is almost always better than telling someone what to do. It has the advantage of letting people come to their own conclusion.  People are more willing to believe a conclusion when they reach it on their own.

5.Build a bridge of communication (credit to Jerram Barrs for this idea)

The road to this bridge begins by asking, “Where do we agree?” 

6. Be content to plant a seed.

People usually change their beliefs quite slowly. It is better to try to take a brick from a wall than try and knock the whole wall down. Be content to take on one small aspect of the argument. You won’t have time to deal with the whole argument in most settings anyway.

 7. Be able to argue the other side.

You should know the opposing side. So well, you could argue it if you had to. (This will contribute to perception of character; this will also prepare you for objections and arguments against your position.

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